10 Things No One Told Me Before Having a Baby

This post won’t be for the faint at heart. Or for people who don’t like hearing (or talking) about bodily fluids, pregnancy and childbirth. If that’s you, I warned you.

If that’s not you, and you have a curious and open mind to the best mama advice I’ve got, I hope you enjoy the next 4 minutes of your life as you read over this list. And maybe share it with a friend who needs it. Lord knows I wish somebody had told me all this stuff.

Secret # 1:

Your blood pressure will drop significantly after the baby is born and YOU WILL BE FREEZING COLD. I recall being in a hoodie and sweatpants underneath 2 blankets in July, sitting in our leather recliner with my 4 day old baby. It was super strange.

Secret # 2:

If you have a C-section, it’s totally normal to pass a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe. I literally pulled the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom because I thought my liver fell into the toilet. When the nurse came running in to see if I was dying, she explained all this with that “Bless your heart” look about her. I didn’t find it very funny at the time, but will admit I felt much better after freeing this mass of dried blood from my body. Not to mention, several of my husbands MALE coworkers were in the hospital room and heard the whole thing happen. Kind of them to show up with Chick-Fil-A? Yes. Would I have preferred to experience that alone? Most definitely.

Secret # 3:

Breastfeeding is REALLY hard in the early days. But it gets easier after 2 weeks. The desire to throw in the towel will come early on, but if you set small goals to just make it through one feeding at a time, before you know it you’ll be on your way to painless, beautifully enjoyable and bonding nursing sessions with your tiny human. Lean on your support (by support I mean, all those friends you have that have done it before, ask them. Women who breastfed their babies usually LOVE to talk about their experience and will help you in a skinny minute). Have tons of grace with yourself. If the lactation consultant tells you to try a different position, trust them. If they suggest you try the nipple shield, try it. If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick when the baby stops drinking, you’re doing it wrong and they can help with that. Trust me, it hurts like hell to keep letting them make lipstick nipples out of you.

Secret # 4:

Postpartum depression is NO JOKE. Be vigilant about noticing changes in your emotions and make sure your partner is aware enough to recognize changes in your mood and behavior, too. Locking yourself in the bathroom to cry with a newborn in your arms is OK, even if you have a house full of people waiting to hold the baby. But staying in there all day and doing it again the next day could mean it’s time to call your doc. Placenta encapsulation was a game-changer for me the second time around. If you have considered this, my advice is: It’s the best $200 you will ever spend on yourself. Just don’t forget to tell the nurses you want to keep your placenta. They may throw it out pretty quickly otherwise.

Secret # 5:

With regard to #4, saying NO to visitors is OK and encouraged. It’s a big life adjustment and you need all the alone time with the new human you just pushed out that you can possibly get. I am pretty sure my precious Grandparents are still upset with me because they were at our house in the driveway when we pulled up with our first baby six years ago. Grateful that they were there with lunch and cared enough to come visit? Of course I was. But having time to get in and get settled would have been nice, too. I’d have been much more engaged and present during their visit had it been just a few hours later. I had no idea what I was doing as a parent and had literally just been cut open from hip bone to hip bone 3 days before. (Love you Granny and Papa – please forgive me for seeming ungrateful. I promise I was just trying to figure out my new life and needed some space.)

Secret # 6:

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says that, I know. And it kind of sounds like annoying advice before you actually have the baby, but it really is true. While I was on maternity leave, I was slightly delusional to think I’d craft like Martha Stewart, start a business, and have a hot dinner on the table for my husband every day when he came home from work. I was lucky if I showered every other day and yoga pants and maternity tanks were the only laundry I had to worry about for myself. For 3 months.

Secret # 7:

If you have a C-section, you may experience the most gruesome pain AFTER you get home. I remember for at least a week after coming home from the hospital, every time I would sit down on the toilet to pee, a terrifying pain would shoot from my tailbone up to the middle of my back. The first time it happened I literally wailed as if I was being stabbed. It happened 2 dozen more times but seemed to lessen in severity over a week or so. I was told this was an after effect of the spinal block given to numb me before the incision, but I didn’t expect it. (I could see how an epidural would cause this also, but it didn’t happen to me with my second delivery.)

Secret # 8:

If you are fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, know that it’s normal for them to go several days without pooping. And when they do poop, be ready. Hot, yellow, vinegary mess of a load it will be. But no need to be alarmed if a week passes between BMs. The way it was explained to me: breastmilk is so nutritious, there is very little waste for them to get rid of. Their bodies use almost all of your milk.

Secret # 9:

When you change their diaper, if you use a changing table, alternate the direction you lay them each time. They will naturally want to look at you while you change them, and if you lay them the same way ever time, you run the risk of causing their head to flatten on one side. Using the couch or bed and laying them directly in front of you works well, too.

Secret # 10:

When you go into labor, it may feel like you have to poop. With my second, I woke up at 3AM, rolled my giant body out of bed and waddled to the bathroom “to poop”. And then 20 minutes later…again. And then 10 minutes later… again. After an hour, I texted my husband who was sleeping upstairs because I was beyond the point of being an enjoyable bed partner, to tell him I thought I was in labor. After pacing laps around our living room and kitchen for another hour, my water broke and we had s baby soon after.

Don’t let any of this stuff freak you out. Having a baby is the greatest miracle I’ve ever known. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise.

Happy Secret Anniversary, Babe

Eight years ago today, Reid and I got married at the Guilford County Courthouse. We invited my great-grandparents, our grandparents and parents as witnesses.

A wedding date was set for 3/11/11 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Anyone who knows my husband can deduce that choosing to be married on 3/11/11 was quite intentional. 311 is his favorite band and I figured he’d never forget our anniversary with a date like that. True story.)

We told very few people about our November 4th nuptials. I don’t even think my brother and sister knew this. We chose this date because it also happened to be Reid’s grandmothers birthday. Cecilia passed when he was a teenager and with his own birthday being the day before, we knew it would be a day we’d never forget.

We have pictures somewhere, but I couldn’t find them today when I briefly looked for them. Mind you, this was before the iPhone and someone actually took film to the store to be developed, which seems unfathomable nowadays. I’m sure my heart will swell when I find them one day.

I’m grateful for everyone who was there to witness our marriage that afternoon, but my heart is extra-grateful for the presence of my great-grandparents. Mama Dot and Papa Fred were precious to me. Mama Dot was “my person”. They showed up in their Sunday’s best and I could see the joy on their faces as they watched us marry one another. They really did love my husband.

Papa Fred gave us this as a wedding gift. I’m pretty sure he cut it out of the Readers Digest. And I’m also pretty sure it was the only gift he ever gave me all on his own. He loved Reid, and he was happy that I was happy. He was happy that I was starting a life with someone he knew would love and cherish me as he had for my whole life. He was proud to stand with us on that day eight years ago.

We knew they’d never be able to travel to Mexico. But what we didn’t know was that they’d both pass before our Mexico wedding ever took place. Papa died on December 15th and just 18 days later on January 2nd, Mama Dot followed behind.

I put their photos in a locket given to me by Mama Dot a year or so before she passed. My Dad had it in his pocket as he walked me down the aisle and handed it to Reid, who clasped it around my neck. They were there with me that day, and it couldn’t have been anymore special.

So, Happy Anniversary to you, babe. I’m sure Mama Dot is eating watermelon and watching “wrasslin'” today as she smiles down on us. And Papa is telling stories to someone and cracking jokes I’m sure.

What I wouldn’t give for one more meal around their supper table.

Counting blessings never seemed to come easy when you were only a phone call away. I sure do miss y’all. But I know that you know, Reid’s doing a fine job taking care of me. And you sure would love our girls.

Happy Birthday. Welcome to Now.

One year ago yesterday, I shared my very first blog post on this site. I actually bought this laptop for the sole purpose of starting this blog.

It wasn’t the first time I had written on the internet; I had a Tumblr account that I piddled with once-upon-a-time. But, when this site was born last February, it was different.

I’d been pulled in a direction that led me to write again, but this time, it’d be different. I had recently made the decision to leave my career to stay at home and be a mom. I felt God telling me to be patient and not to worry, but to slow down. I knew I’d have to find ways to make money from home and did a little bit of research on making money through blogging. But that wasn’t what was important to me. I was eager to walk in my truth and tell my story.

I felt called to put my creative gifts and love for communication and passion for inspiring others to the test, creating the ultimate trifecta. Writing gave me life and fulfillment and sprinkled pure joy in my days. (I pray it always will.)

What may come as a surprise, however, is that when I get the urge to write, it stops me in my tracks. My blog post ideas l i t e r a l l y come out of nowhere, and I usually have to stop what I am doing and go write. And the not-so-cool part about it is: I can’t stand writing from my phone or tablet. It MUST be on a laptop or something with keys. That I can aggressively and quickly bang (ask my new co-workers/roommates or darling husband, they will attest to my annoyingly loud typing. Bless them all for their tolerance.) But my point is, I have to get to my computer, dial up my diffuser and get busy. I’m not much of a mobile blogger much at all. Ever, really.

But y’all. I can’t help it. I just get moved to say stuffAll the feels. ALL THE JOY.

When I opened my laptop to pull up WordPress to write this post tonight, I noticed a folder on my desktop that I created a few months ago: “Things That Move Me”.

I only saved one thing in it…

Hugh Laurie

This quote says so much about my journey last year. There was so much uncertainty and many faith-based decisions. I had no idea when I started this blog what it’d lead to. I just figured I’d inconsistently write when I felt the urge. I wrote each post from the heart and was sincerely moved by each opportunity to share my journey with a friend or stranger.

Writing became my safe space. My release. My peace.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 2,220 people would view my site 3,288 times in 27 countries all over the world in just one year. Goodness gracious, am I grateful.

I’m deeply touched for each blink of an eye that my words sit between. I appreciate each kind remark and comment. It’s been an honor to share my heart with you.

To think about all that’s happened since this blog began brings me back to grace, and gratitude, and awestruck wonder. God’s led me into deeper waters. I never want to feel like I’ve arrived, but I sure do long for more.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that this time of year is just not my best. I battle darkness during this season each year of my life. I’m certain lots of us do. I’m thankful that things like writing and hot yoga and coffee and worship music bring me back to life on tough days.

Here is to Spring being around the corner.  But for now, may we ride the wave of this season together and keep our eyes on what we can’t see. There’s beauty there.

309 Days

Do you know what the word epiphany means? Lots of us have heard it. Used it. But do you r e a l l y know? It’s an experience of sudden and striking realization. When you figure something out, almost always out of thin air, and the thought comes to you that allows you to finally piece together the puzzle.

Was the cup half full? Or was it half empty?

It doesn’t really matter, because the cup was refillable…

It had been 309 days. That’s how long I lasted as a stay-at-home-Mom.

I started this post on December 5th and it hasn’t been touched since then. I started writing it the night before I went back to work as I laid in bed. I fell asleep without finishing it. Since then, I’ve often thought about what I would write when I picked it back up again.

And in my mind, I honestly didn’t have a strong pull for what direction this post should even go next. Should I write about how incredible my new job is? How it was the first job posting I read on that cold Sunday November afternoon (just days after deciding to go back to work) and when I read through the job description, I felt deep in my bones that it was meant for me? And how I got so excited about getting called for an interview, that I took my kids for ice cream before dinner?

Or should I write about the guilt part? The part about feeling invisible on many of my days as a SAHM, or the part about feeling guilty for feeling like I need to be seen in the first place?

The reason why I was hung up on finishing this blog post was because the part I was meant to tell in this story hadn’t happened yet…

As I rocked Everly to sleep tonight, in our favorite spot in the house, I started to cry. I could hear her tiny snore and closed my eyes as I rested my lips on the top of her head. The smell of her fresh bath, the limp weight of her sleeping body against my chest. I didn’t want to put her down.

It was tonight that I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the days I had with her. For all the afternoons we had together as we walked to school to pick up Sadler from Kindergarten.

For all the musical story times in the park we got to attend with Mr. Pete, and for all the fun Costco trips, eating samples and smiling at strangers.

It was tonight that I realized how much more engaged I’ve felt with my girls since I went back to work. I felt it the very first night; I remember that first night vividly. I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember noticing that I looked more at the details of their faces.

It was tonight that I recalled the moment I had my epiphany, and how I’d come to realize that my time home with my girls gave them more quantity time with me, but certainly not more quality time. I had allowed myself to become a martyr to my home, my chores, my expectations as a wife, my role as a mother. I wasn’t happy, and I was in denial about it.

It was tonight that I realized how grateful I am for every experience I had last year. For every bit of perspective that was gained. For every book that was read. For every new person that I met. For every old friend that I reconnected with, and for every (sometimes) long winded phone conversation. For e v e r y s i n g l e minute I shared with my children. For every essential oil class I taught. For MOPS. For it all –I am, and will forever be grateful.

It was tonight that I smiled when I thought to myself, “I love my new job.” I am grateful for the wonderful people I work with and for the deep level of engagement each of my co-workers pours into in their roles. I love the energy in our office and that everyone has a good sense of humor. I love that I’m connected again with my property management family, and that I’ve met so many kind people on our site teams and in our corporate office. And although its been less than sixty days, I feel like I’ve worked there for months.

It was tonight that I acknowledged the rhythm that my husband and I seem to have found. The parenting balance that seems to feel a little gentler, a little more predictable, a little more whole.

It was tonight that I acknowledged never to take another day for granted, and that something as simple as a lunch break with adults five days a week can make you feel like a real human again.

There really is so much I could say about this new chapter in my story, and how the pages even turned to this point in the first place. If you had told me a mere season ago that I’d be back at work by year end, I would have probably rolled my eyes, and maybe even debated with you.

I will forever remember 2017 as the year I “woke up”. The year I grew closer to God and slowed down. The year I deepened in spirit and the veil was lifted. The year that I came alive to the awareness of what it means to truly be in your life path and followed my spiritual GPS. The year I gained wisdom of the power of the spoken word, learned the critical importance of gratitude, meditation, and how to better take care of my body.

And, most importantly, it was the year I had the privilege of being at home with my children. To be a Mama. To be a part of their every day, from start to finish. Every good day, every bad day. Every new experience, every memory, every adventure. We had an incredible year together and it’s one I will remember for the rest of my life.

My heart is full tonight.

I’ve got all the feels.

I chose joy then, and there isn’t a doubt I still do. Every day.

Happy Birthday, Mama Dot

You didn’t like to make a big deal about your birthday. Looking back now, I realize that’s only because you never made things much about yourself in the first place.

I’ve needed to look into your eyes a lot of times lately. Looking there always kept me honest. Your eyes were soft and they cradled me. You wept behind your glasses as you’d take in my words.

We’d sit for hours around that table; you’d fidget with your leftover lunch napkin, rolling and twirling it through your hands. But you’d never take your eyes off me. Sometimes you’d close them, but I know now you were only trying to take my pain away.

There’s a picture of you in our house that I tend to go to when I need you. You were young, holding a guitar, in the middle of a field. And you almost smiled. You didn’t like to smile for pictures, and you didn’t play the guitar as far as I know. That’s what makes this picture so amazing. Someone captured you out of your comfort zone, a place you didn’t go often.

But that picture, it saves me. Something about it allows me to connect with you unlike the others. To have known you at such a young age in your life, at a time when you were so wild and free and innocent. I imagine what you did on the day you took this picture. Who was behind the camera? And what you did after you posed for this one photo?

You were the safest space I ever knew. I’d give anything to be around that table with you again and to share just one more tomato sandwich, one more bowl of vegetable soup, play one more hand of Uno, wrap one more Christmas present, send one more sympathy card, or hold your precious hands just once more.
You saved me. And you still do.

I’m so grateful you got a wild hair that day and decided to pose for this picture, and I’m so glad you were born. I’m sending you the biggest “wowee” kiss in heaven today and appreciate you staying with me over the years. I feel you here, and I like it.

Happy birthday, Mama Dot. I love you a bushel and a peck.

24 Mondays

That’s how many I’ve had to rock you before nap. That’s how many I’ve had to hold you in the heirloom rocking chair in your bedroom, the place we’ve both come to know and love with such intimacy and sacred appreciation.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to notice that you like to grab hold of the sides of the rocking chair, one arm at a time, nice long stretches, while your head stays rested on my chest. How you love to hold onto my shoulder with only one arm, like a baby sloth, and you sleep with your mouth open and have a tiny growl of a snore.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to feel an inching wonder that you may never stop breastfeeding, and while I appreciate the bond and beauty and all that breastfeeding does for our soul and the souls of mamas and babies all over the world…believe me, I’m so grateful. But I’m ready for it to end.

But then…I can’t help but think that in 24 Mondays from now, you probably won’t want to nurse anymore. You may not even want me to rock you, and who knows if you will even want to be held at all. How many words will you say then? You’ll have a new thing that you do, and a new preference about you. Will you still call it “bbubbbbll” and like to be patted on the butt to be soothed? Will you want to play with your sister, or find solitary adventure without her?

All these things that I think won’t ever stop, they will. That’s just the thing.

And I will miss them.

I’ve come to realize that you’re likely the last one, Everly Jean. The last baby to be birthed and rocked and swaddled and breastfed. The last one. They saved the best for last with you. You’re good, you. Mama loves you, more than you may ever truly know.

I’ve watched you change other people, too. Strangers sometimes. Often times. They connect eyes with you and you give them that toothy smile and your eyes light up like Mama Dot. They see you like I see you.

Life is teaching me that finding gratitude for what shows up in my path, that’s true beauty. That my purpose right now is to be a mother, and to be there for you and your sister when you need me. To teach you to appreciate what you’ve got in life, to be kind to every single person you meet, and to love with all that you’re made of.

Raising and growing you into the lady version of yourself so that you, too can be a mama and a light for your own girls some day.

Knowing that a day will come when you won’t need me at all anymore and I will be lucky if you call me before bedtime each night when you’re all grown up.

All the growth and digging deep in self-discovery over the last year of my life seems to run parallel to your existence. You are wondrous to me, and I may never be able to find the right words to tell you exactly what you are to me. My hope is, that you’ll just see and know like the world sees you.

Perfect wonder, you are, Everly Jean.


I look forward to 24 more Mondays with you, that lead to Fridays and weekends where Sunday seems to drag out forever. Those are our favorite days.

I’ll try to stop rushing you to grow up now. Sleep well, our princess. Mama loves you.

 


 

Dear Sadler

Happy Birthday, my sweet child!

It’s been 5 years.

Five years since you joined your Daddy and I on this Earth. I woke up this morning and instantly started to think back. Back to what life was like before you, and the thing is, I can barely remember. You’ve made life more fun, plain and simple.

537465_10100718714637019_926308886_n

I remember being pregnant with you and wondering what you’d look like. What your voice would sound like. How old you’d be when you learned to read, and what color eyes you’d have. I remember sitting at Herbie’s eating breakfast with your Daddy the morning you were born. It was a Saturday. You weren’t due until 13 days later, but I had an eerie feeling from the second I woke up that day. Not a scary kind of eerie, just a feeling like I hadn’t felt before. After breakfast, I went to get a prenatal massage (which I don’t rule out as what put me into labor), and then it was Chick Fil A and a movie that afternoon.

We watched Savages. I remember thinking how pretty Blake Lively was, and the movie was pretty intense so it kept me on the edge of my seat (and awake! I usually fall asleep in movies, which I’m sure you know by now).

After the movie, we headed home to get Gladston so we could head out to Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sarah’s house for dinner. When we got to their house, I opened the door, stepped out onto the driveway and there it went. Everywhere.  A big, warm gush all over my flip flops, down my legs. I remember crying immediately, I knew it was time.

Your Ga Ga looked at me, deep into my eyes and said, “It’s gonna be ok.”

I don’t think poor Gladston ever even got out of the Jeep. Daddy drove us (safely but quickly) back to the townhouse to get our stuff to get ready to go to the hospital.

I took a shower. I cried more. I prayed, a lot. (Looking back, it wasn’t a time in my life when I was close to God. I rarely prayed, if ever. But in that moment it washed over me as the only thing to do. I cry as I write this, because it reminds me how far I’ve come.)

We got our stuff and headed to the hospital. Since you were breach, and with no success in you re-positioning, a cesarean was planned for 6 days later. But since my water broke and I was now in active labor on my own, things were a little different than my mind had played them out.

We got to the hospital and it was around 5:30 or so. It seemed relatively quiet there, but as luck would have it, the entire hospital was transitioning to a new software THAT DAY and the “go live” date was THAT DAY. So, I sensed panic in the nurses right away.

As we were getting prepped for surgery, something went wrong. I was fortunate enough to have the hottest anesthesiologist in the history of time talking to me and explaining things as the spinal block was going into my back. Your daddy was still in the hallway scrubbing in, and I was gazing into Dr. McDreamy’s eyes, trying not to think about the excruciating pain taking place in my body…when, in walked Dr. Grewal.

In my mind, I to this day think she said Code Red. It could just be that my brain remembers the story that way, I don’t really know. I just remember that that’s when everything changed.

I remember saying, “What’s wrong?!” She grabbed me by the hand and explained to me that your umbilical cord had prolapsed and that the surgery needed to begin immediately. “Incision!” I felt it, left to right. Your daddy still wasn’t there.

“My husband, I need my husband!” Dr. McDreamy held my hand and kept me calm until Reid got in the room.

It felt like hours. They were working hard to get you out of there, and it became clear then to me why you never turned – you couldn’t move! You’d gotten yourself all cozy in there in a position that you couldn’t get out of!

When the nurses and doctor finally got you out, we waited to hear your cry. I couldn’t wait to look at you. To hold you. To nurse you. To kiss you. To smell you.

I got to do all of those things, but they were too fast. Too fast for firsts.

They wheeled me off to recovery, and Daddy took you to the nursery for your bath.

That seemed like the longest 2 hours of my life. I wanted you in my arms. I couldn’t stop shaking. The nurses seemed to ignore me as they stumbled through their new software. I felt so alone, and I couldn’t wait to see your face again.

When I finally did, nothing else mattered anymore. There was no pain. I became overwhelmed with joy. And a sense of love like I’d never known before.599445_10100778192273359_24538829_n

Once we got home, it sort of just became me and you. There were visitors, but we also had lots of time together, alone. I watched you sleep a lot. I slept beside you, and I loved listening to the coo under your breath as you slept.

534858_10100784501863889_974196093_n

You were like magic to me. I wanted you near me, all of the time. And you didn’t seem to mind. You were perfect in so many ways. Even strangers would say it. The shape of your face seemed perfectly symmetrical. You were beauty in every form.

409635_10100785787043379_1147522915_n

I fell in love with baby-wearing. And you were always such a good sport about it. Looking back at this photo, I know that this type of carrier isn’t really ideal for hip support and we only used it this one time, but I remember how proud I was at this very moment to be a mama. To walk around the neighborhood as you slept on my chest, and to feel full. And proud. And that I had done something right in life. Calling you mine was easy, and I felt worthy. You filled me up with love, you see.

315433_10100782215445889_843309889_n

Gladston loved you immensely, too. I sure hope you remember him. He sat by your side a lot of the time, and watched you sleep much like I did. We’d pick “Gladston boogers” off your clothes constantly. But we didn’t mind. In fact, I think that’s how he got the name “Booger Bear”.

1477753_10200882574616214_345869698_n1920533_10102159585679899_5485398882328609661_n10698423_10102126999687489_8111084648388441250_n12193508_10204589132957856_2806497585831902681_n10156136_1063894567007531_4667600015654004458_n

Watching you grow up into the young lady you are today, well the magic hasn’t stopped. It only continues. Your spirit is stubborn yet true, your soul is genuine and whole, your heart is open and honest, and your imagination inspires me. I love every single thing about you, and couldn’t be more proud to be your mama, Sadler Mae.

I hope today is the best birthday yet and that your Daddy was able to find that unicorn you’ve been asking for.

Love,

Mama 

18198297_1296553023785168_3354772541977006519_n